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Background

The development of the Center for Accelerated Language Acquisition (CALA) was inspired by a series of workshops and presentations produced by Dr. Shelley Thomas at Middle Tennessee State University and funded by grants and financial support from various university departments and generous donations from Contee Seely, author and founder of the Command Performance Language Institute.  The workshops were highly praised by learners, instructors and researchers alike, and demand for them increased rapidly.  Our goal is to continue this legacy by offering even more programs and languages and by spreading our services to broader audiences both in the United States and abroad.

"I am particularly grateful for the knowledge, wisdom, and guidance of my mentors, Dr. James J. Asher, Berty Segal Cook, Blaine Ray, and Eric Jensen.  Blaine lent us his talent by teaching at our very first language institute.  He and numerous other wonderful K-12 language teachers, including Donna Tatum-Johns, Sarah Moran, Linda Li, Susan Zhang, Beth Skelton, Jason Fritze, and Katya Paukova, contributed greatly to the success of our early language institutes.  Their efforts and the support of many others over the years have made the organization and work of CALA possible, and I am deeply appreciative of their generosity."  --Dr. Shelley Thomas, CALA Founder and Director


Methodology

CALA founder and director Shelley Thomas has particular expertise in whole-brain learning as acquired through three-year certification program with the Eric Jensen Learning Corporation.  All CALA language-learning programs and workshops are based on whole-brain learning principles and thus include activities that foster natural, stress-free language acquisition and long-term retention by engaging both hemispheres of the brain.

We involve the right hemisphere--the silent, creative side of the brain--through action, role-play, and emotion.  We begin with TPR (Total Physical Response), a method developed by Dr. James Asher.  During TPR activities, participants learn to respond to commands and narratives, both simple ("Stand up!") and complex ("Class, John is going to stand up, walk to the board and write his first name with the blue marker.").  The participants are initially silent; they "produce" the language through physical actions, which is a natural form of expression for the right brain.  The activities allow for rapid acquisition of a substantial base of vocabulary, extensive exposure to the sounds of the language, and development of a natural feel for its structures and grammar.  Participants are quickly able to understand novel commands and narratives--ones they have never heard before--by piecing together elements that they learned earlier . . .  >> Read More